What is the bedrock of culture?

Defining corporate culture in a virtual world.

2020 taught us many lessons, including the importance of building connections in our largely virtual world. In our industry, our people are our business, and the connections among them help create the magic we do for our clients. As CEO, I’m obsessed with how to keep those connections — that culture — alive when we’re disconnected physically. How will our culture morph as we enter a period where everyone may not come back to the office regularly? What components of culture and camaraderie will grow to replace the energy and spirit of people meeting in person? While I’m not sure I have a firm grasp on the answers just yet, I can say that fostering a shared vision and purpose will help.

A main tenet of our culture, our riverfront office, remains largely untouched.

What are my hopes and goals for 2021?

Being together, apart.

Can you really make meaningful connections virtually? You better believe it. We’ve had 22 employees start at BR entirely virtually, meeting their new teammates over Zoom and Teams. We’ve also had our executive leadership team and department leaders get inventive with ways to maintain a healthy and vibrant culture. We’ve added tools like MURAL, Zencastr and others to help keep creative collaboration alive. We’ve had some fun too. Dressing up in costumes or crazy hats, holding virtual scavenger hunts and playing teamwide games are a handful of the ways we have engaged teams. We need these “together, apart” activities to connect with each other and bring a necessary energy to our organization and work. While it can’t beat the vigor of in-person meetings, building connections will be an important focus area for us at BR in 2021 and beyond to maintain a positive culture.

What’s the difference between values and culture?

Finding shared values.

Ultimately, shared values are what bring us together and guide us in our everyday work lives. I’m asked a lot about mission and vision, and, to me, values are the bedrock of culture. Values are what drive and motivate us. They combine many things, including our processes, how we structure teams and how we conduct meetings. Our values have always included collaboration, trust and participation. Increasingly important are diversity and transparency. The combination of these values results in greater ideas, better work and happier teams.

What qualities do we need in a leader?

2021 still presents many challenges, but we are excited to tackle those and confident growth is in our future.

To that end, and as I reflect on myself as a leader in 2021, I plan to think about our values often to ensure we’re aligned. And I want to double down on the amount of empathy I practice with my direct reports, our employees and our clients. We could all use a big, collective — albeit virtual — hug.

What are your organization’s anchors of culture? And how do you plan to grow them in 2021?

About the Author

Jeff Young is CEO and President of Bader Rutter. At his core, he is a builder with a passion for helping clients grow their businesses and brands. In fact, he has been helping build Bader Rutter for the past 30 years. Tireless problem solving is a hallmark of Jeff, and his belief is that the closer we are to the clients’ customer, the smarter we can be on their behalf.